Title: Redeem Me

Author: Tread Softly / harm0nia nectere passus

Rated: T-M (sensuality, language)

Disclaimer: I don't have anything to do with the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes or anyone involved with it.

Archiving: Usually anywhere, just ask first.


His mouth felt like sandpaper.

That was Dodge's first thought upon waking. He tried to make a sound, form his tongue around a word, or even the beginnings of one, but he could summon nothing from between his dry, cracked lips. He couldn't even find the strength to cough, and that felt a more immediate need than speaking. Giving up on his mouth, he tried for another vital aspect of human communication. As he wrenched his eyes open, he was met with a searing slash of white light beneath the barely-eased slat of each eyelid. He blinked rapidly, and then, deciding against the continued torment, squeezed his eyes closed tight until they relaxed once more.

Suddenly he could hear muffled voices, somewhere near, and yet not near enough for him to make out the entire conversation. It was like listening through a cup against a door, muffled and echoing all at once. He swallowed, his adam's apple bobbing over what felt like lava-encompassed shards of glass, trying to piece together the words he was hearing.

"The fact of the matter is, you were the person we found him with, and he has no other immediate family in the area," the doctor said soberly as Will crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe of the hospital suite. "Or in the state," the doctor added, flipping over a medical history. "Or in the country."

"That's impossible, come on!" Will argued, rubbing at the bridge of his nose tiredly. "There's got to be someone he can go home with. Friends, acquaintances? Hell, someone who even likes him?"

The doctor shook his head, leafing through his clipboard with an air of disinterest. "Since his father can't be located and his coworker is undergoing therapy for post-traumatic stress, it really only leaves you. Otherwise we wheel him out onto the curb and hope for the best."

Will opened his mouth to argue once more but the doctor cut him off.

"Look Mr. Rodman, I've got the entire SFPD coming in on stretchers within the hour. The ER is full. The hallways are full. I need beds. I've got to triage and he," the harried surgeon motioned to the youth's prone bed-ridden form, "is stable. Do you understand?"

Will cursed silently, resisting the urge to pummel his fist into the doorframe he'd been reclining against moments before.

"Fine. Give me the forms."

/

The second time Dodge attempted to open his eyes, he was met with a slightly greater degree of success. The intense light cut through once more, but as he blinked purposefully it seemed to ebb away until he was left with a blurry obscured version of what he assumed was the world around him at the immediate moment. It was unfamiliar, down to the scent and the feel of the air. The voices from earlier seemed to be gone.

He tried to lift his arm but it felt like a dead weight. He wasn't sure if he should be more concerned about that or just happy he could feel it at all. He settled for wriggling his fingers in agitation, horrified at the sensation of blistered skin running together.

"Don't move." There was that voice again. One half from earlier, one that already sounded vaguely familiar, but Dodge couldn't place it. "Try not to move. Here, drink this," it beckoned and before Dodge knew what was happening, the rim of a glass was being pressed to hip lips. He opened them, releasing a harsh, gravelly moan as the ice-cold liquid passed down his parched throat.

When the glass left his lips, he nearly whimpered, and would have if he'd been able to produce such a delicate sound.

"You need to rest more," the voice continued in what sounded like thinly veiled irritation. "Christ, I don't have time for this," it added, clearly exasperated.

Dodge could think of several scathing, sarcastic replies along the lines of oh yes, and I decided to be charred alive by a fucking ape merely to inconvenience you.

Ape.

And then he remembered. The voice. He did know it. It belonged to none other than that vindictive monkey's creator and guardian.

"You-" he started, wishing venom but his voice was a feeble whisper of breath more than anything else. He blacked out again before he could form another thought.

Will ran his hands through his hair and backed away from the hospital bed that was currently occupying his father's old room. He almost laughed, the irony of the inappropriate arrangement not lost on him.

What the hell am I doing? he thought, the temptation to punch things returning with a vengeance. He spared a glance back at the bed and immediately regretted doing so.

The kid Will knew vaguely as Dodge Landon was lying there, body eerily loose and boneless. If he hadn't just moved and attempted to speak Will would think him dead now, by all outward appearances. He was so still and so quiet, save the weak rise and fall of his chest as it labored to process air. The kid was bad-off, Will observed, although it could have been much worse. He could be dead, and he had come very close, Will recalled the doctor telling him.

Dodge was covered with extensive burns. Will couldn't remember the exact percentage and didn't necessarily want to, as he cringed just from what he could see. The once fresh, albeit smug, features of Dodge's face were now marred with cracked, blistering wounds, the carnage of which carried down one full side of his face to his neck and disappeared beneath his hospital gown and the blanket covering him. His sun-kissed arms, at least up to the elbow as far as Will could examine, had suffered the same fate, the skin darkened red and even black in some places where the effect of the electric shock had been most severe. His hands were the worst, as they had come in closest contact with the current's surge. Will was surprised the boy had been able to move his fingers at all.

It was a miracle, really. At least, this is what Will tried to tell himself as he paced the otherwise-empty room. Dodge was indeed stable, but he was still hooked up to an IV drip and a number of other monitors keeping constant check over his vital functions. The doctor had given Will several print-outs and instructions on how to care for the young man, and how to operate his monitors and administer morphine and antibiotics. Considering his employment and education it was often assumed he could handle a mild medical situation.

But to put it plainly, Will didn't know what the fuck he had gotten himself into. Alas, all his calls and research into finding Dodge an alternate and more eager caretaker went unheeded, and it seemed he was indeed without a choice for the time-being.

Will sighed and stepped out of the room, knowing his unwilling patient would probably be out for several hours. After the day's events he was in dire need of rest himself.

/

The third time Dodge came to, he decided he was rather bored with this inconvenient periodical loss of consciousness. Everything he hadn't pieced together the last time he was awake seemed to ricochet back at him now: Caesar grabbing his arm, the goddamn ape speaking, his head pounding in a filthy cage.

Aiming the taser.

The jet of water from the hose.

And now he was here. In the home of the man who, for all intents and purposes, Dodge deemed responsible for it all.

Dodge panicked.

He willed his fingers to move, then pivoted his wrists and raised his arms, even though every tiny movement felt like needles shooting through him to the nerve. He grappled at the IV tube sprouting from his hand, ripping it from the vein and tearing tender, unhealed flesh with it. He sought the numerous white monitor pads covering his body - from temples to chest and pulled them free.

He sat up in the hospital bed and he screamed. His spine was on fire. At least, that's what it felt like.

He ignored it and swung his legs over the side of the bed, gasping as his fevered, bed-swollen feet hit the cool hardwood floor. He tried to stand and promptly fell, crying out once more as his sensitive wounded skin made harsh contact with the unforgiving surface.

The door flew open then and Will was on him in seconds, having been alerted by the now-blaring monitors and overall ruckus.

"What the fuck are you doing?" he snapped, grabbing Dodge roughly in an attempt to lift him from the floor.

Dodge yelped at the firm treatment, the grip of Will's hands like fire-stoked brands around his already-scalded shoulders. The sound seemed to shock the older man who promptly loosened his hold.

"Get off me," Dodge mumbled weakly, making a pathetic attempt at pushing Will away from him.

"Fine," Will acquiesced, lowering the younger man slowly back down. He stood, hands on hips, regarding the heap in complete exasperation. "Where are you gonna go?"

Dodge's only answer was to pant from the exertion of his escape attempt, suddenly feeling too tired and too pained to produce an argument. He let one cheek rest against the cold floor, chest heaving and eyes struggling to stay open enough to glare up at Will.

"That's what I thought," the researcher said. He knelt down next to Dodge and placed his hands beneath the lanky boy's body, lifting him up bridal style with as much grace as he could manage. He ignored the pained moan as he did so, carrying the younger man back to the hulk of a bed.

"Don't try that again," Will breathed as he shut off the wailing monitors. "Idiot. I'll have to put your IV back in. I'm sure you'll enjoy that repeat-experience," he chastised, examining the seeping cut on Dodge's hand.

"Fuck you," Dodge mouthed at him, still glaring blearily at the scientist through a haze of exhaustion.

"I'm pretty sure I'm already fucked," Will replied matter-of-factly. "You saw to that quite nicely."

Dodge swallowed and looked away but said nothing more. Will watched him carefully as he readied the needle. His eyes were just slipping closed as Will inserted his second IV, the twinge of pain causing him to wince, but remain otherwise motionless.

/

"Thank god," Will exhaled as he opened his front door.

"Where is he?" Caroline asked, leaning in to place a kiss on Will's cheek as she stepped inside the house.

"Upstairs, asleep. For now, anyways."

Caroline arched a finely sculpted eyebrow in curiosity.

"He tried to walk out. Or crawl out, really," Will explained, closing the door quietly behind her.

Caroline's eyes doubled in size as she recalled the state the young man had been in when she and Will had found him. "You can't be serious," she said.

"I wish I wasn't," Will sighed, rubbing his face. "I wish we weren't having this conversation right now," he added.

Caroline pouted sympathetically at him before deciding to lighten the mood. "Well, I might have a solution for you," she chirped, reaching for a pamphlet in her bag. She handed the folded paper to the scientist as they left the hallway for the open air of the kitchen.

"Hospice? I tried that with…" Will cleared his throat of the sudden emotion riding up like bile. "I tried that with my father. It didn't go over too well," he murmured.

"This is different," Caroline supplied. There is a facility where he can stay. Somewhat like a rehab clinic. It's expensive…but if you want to wash your hands of him that badly, it might be your only choice."

Will nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat. "Thank you. You are a lifesaver, you have no idea," he insisted. "I'll look this over."

Caroline smiled tenderly at him and placed a warm palm to the side of his face. They were interrupted by a shrill honk from outside.

"I have to go," Caroline said, sounding intensely regretful. "That's my cab."

"This is a highly ill-timed trip," Will complained, wrapping his arms around her one last time."Two months?" he confirmed.

"Two months."

"How will I survive without you?" He whispered into her hair.

"You'll find a way," Caroline answered, pulling away. "You always do."

/

The kid was lying exactly the same way as he had been when Will saw him last. He hadn't moved an inch, not a muscle. Not a hair was out of place. Unconsciously he checked for the rise and fall of Dodge's chest, relieved to find it remained steady.

He crossed his arms and leaned against the oak desk across from the bed, reaching for the pamphlet in his back pocket. Realizing he couldn't read it over properly in the dim room, he set it behind him on the desk and glanced over at the kid once more.

The blonde's lips were parted, dry and weathered, precious air filtering through them like a failing wind in a tunnel. Just then he moved, shoulders jerking rapidly and head falling to one side as his brow knit tightly over his features. Will started for a moment before realizing the boy was dreaming, or from the looks of it, invested in quite the nightmare.

Will wondered what he dreamed of. Was it Caesar? Was it the…accident? Will couldn't bare to think of it as anything else, couldn't accept that Caesar would be so cold and unforgiving, no matter how much the brat had deserved it. Dodge had to have provoked him, had to give him reason to react in such an extreme manner. He knew the kid had been mistreating the apes in some way, that much was obvious by his general demeanor around them, and of course, the taser that had led to his demise.

But he had to wonder. Maybe the kid had some motive, some reason for such intense hatred towards the animals. People don't just crack like that unless they've been broken. They don't lash out unless they feel afraid, threatened.

There was no way of truly knowing what had happened at the facility, and what had bred Dodge into such a rotten individual. Not until the kid could talk. If he would talk.

Will pursed his lips, a fleeting thought overcoming him. An absolutely ludicrous idea. But just maybe…

He shoved the pamphlet into a drawer and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.


Thank you for reading thus far. I'd really like to know your thoughts, and if you are interested in reading more of this story!